Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Bryce Kelley slides into all-time record for stolen bases at MSU

April 12, 2021
Senior outfielder Bryce Kelley (17) running into first base during the game against Purdue on April 11, 2021, at the McLane Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Boilermakers 5-2.
Senior outfielder Bryce Kelley (17) running into first base during the game against Purdue on April 11, 2021, at the McLane Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Boilermakers 5-2. —
Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

In the bottom of the first inning, MSU baseball’s Bryce Kelley made an aggressive sprint to third base as Purdue’s pitcher wound up his throw. 

The Boilermaker catcher made the throw to third as Kelley slid into the dirt. The call was safe and Kelley had become MSU’s all-time leader in stolen bases with his 80th base swiped. 

“It feels really good,” Kelley said. “I’m really relieved on two levels, one I’m really proud of what I accomplished it’s something that I never really would have dreamed of here. But on a second level just kind of relieved it’s over with and glad I can kind of move on from this and keep winning some games here.”

Kelley surpassed Anthony Cheky’s 79 career stolen bases on Sunday in the Spartans 5-2 win over Purdue. Head Coach Jake Boss Jr. praised Kelley post-game, noting the significance of setting a school record for the baseball program.

“I told our guys after the game, you think about setting a school record and it sounds good but if you really dig into it, we’ve been playing baseball here for 137 years and so for anybody to set any kind of school record is a really, really monumental achievement and Bryce has earned it,” Boss said. “He’s as steady as they come, he’s one of the smartest players that I think we’ve ever coached here, we just kind of get out of the way and let him do his thing.”

Boss referred to Kelley’s intelligence several times post-game, noting the kind of free reign Kelley gets as a base runner.

“When he’s at the bases or he’s at the plate you just got to step back and let him do his thing because he’s really one of the more intelligent players that we've had and he certainly has earned it,” Boss said. “That’s his 80th stolen base and I don't know that I’ve given him the steal sign more than once or twice in his career.”

“It’s his decision to go, he’s got to pick a pitch and go,” Boss said. “He’s the best that we’ve ever had.”

Kelley attributed his success as a base runner to his development throughout his now five years in the green and white. As a sophomore in 2018, Kelley stole 33 bases for his career season-high.

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“Definitely a lot of trial and error my first couple years here. It was a growth process, a lot of learning and watching the guys before me,” Kelley said. “Not being afraid of failure is a big part of it as well.”

Kelley returned to MSU baseball for this season given the extra year of eligibility from COVID. He had a job offer waiting for him at the conclusion of last season, but the decision to come back wasn’t necessarily a hard one, he says. 

“I really would like to say it was a difficult decision but it honestly it wasn’t at all," Kelley said. "A lot of people I've talked to have put things in perspective for me being here with my best friend for life it’s kind of a no-brainer when thinking about my career after baseball in whatever I do.”

Kelley and MSU baseball will host Purdue again on Monday at 3:05 p.m.

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